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Budget 2013: Children's groups hit out at likely €10 cut to child benefit

Various reports indicate that child benefit will be cut from €140 to €130 per child in next week’s Budget.

The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A NUMBER OF children’s rights groups have hit out at the now likely cut of €10 to child benefit in next Wednesday’s Budget.

Several newspapers say that the government is likely to cut the payment from €140 per child to €130 when Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin deliver the Budget for next year.

The measure will come on top of the standardisation of the payment over the next two years that was announced in last year’s Budget making it €140 for every child in a family.

At present the rate after the first two children rises to €148 for the third child and €160 for the fourth and each subsequent child.

This proposed cut to €130 for every child has drawn criticism from various groups as well as the senator Jillian van Turnhout who is also part of the National Youth Work Advisory Committee.

She told TheJournal.ie: “I don’t support cuts to the child benefit unless there is a compensatory measure that is being put in place like free healthcare or free school books so that we could see that children are benefiting in a way.

The senator said there was no logic to cutting child benefit when this had the potential to affect some parents’ ability to care and provide for their children and potentially push more children into the care of the State.

She added: “For me it’s very like the cuts to home help in that you’re pushing people into hospital, you’re pushing people towards services that cost the State more. A more joined-up government should be looking at the impact of the cuts.”

Reform

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said there was a case for reform of child benefit but that this should be phased and he said that the charity opposed a “large cut” to child benefit.

“There is a case for reform – and there is an argument that better-off families could do with a little less child benefit in order that poorer families could get more support,” he said.

“But if the payment is being reformed, this be must be phased in over the next three to four years, and basis of reform must be totally clear.

“Child benefit cannot be reformed simply to save money for the Exchequer, or to give it back to the troika – that would be socially irresponsible.”

Minister or Social Protection Joan Burton had been considering a report which suggested that child benefit be cut to €100 per child with additional supports for those on low incomes but this appears to have been rejected in favour of an across the board cut.

Children’s Rights Alliance legal and policy director Maria Corbett said that her organisation was committed to the idea that child benefit remained a universal payment and said that it was “more important than ever”.

She said: “We accept that the Payment could be reformed to better protect poorer families. However, we refuse to entertain the notion of an arbitrary cut to the Payment, without targeted extra support to poorer families.  Until that time, the Child Benefit Payment is off limits.”

Last month: Cabinet has not discussed possible child benefit cut – Kenny

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Hugh O'Connell

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